Owner of historic building appeals council rejection of dermatology centre to VCAT

Owner of historic building appeals council rejection of dermatology centre to VCAT
Brendan Rees

The owner of a century-old building in Parkville is taking the City of Melbourne to the state’s planning tribunal after a plan to redevelop the site was knocked back, leaving residents who objected to the proposal reeling.

The community has been running a long campaign to save the intra-war building “Harcourt” at 35-39 Royal Parade after a proposal to build a new dermatology centre at the site threatened to demolish the building.

Sinclair Dermatology proposed to build a three-storey clinic with a basement level car park, which saw it submit amended plans to the council in March to get the project over the line.

But in a huge win for residents – who argued that the building was in the South Parkville heritage precinct and that the proposal was therefore out of character with the area – the council rejected the plan in September because it didn’t fit the planning scheme.

However, Parkville Property Investments Pty Ltd – which is not known if they are associated with the owner of the building or are acting on behalf of Sinclair Dermatology – has lodged an appeal and will take the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) with a compulsory conference on December 1 and a hearing on February 28 next year.

The Parkville Association’s president Rob Moore, whose group led the successful campaign to keep the red brick two-storey building, said he was disappointed by the news.

“It’s sad but given the council knocked the plan back on several fronts, we will be defending our suburb,” he said.


“We’re very disappointed as clearly this is an unsuitable development for our heritage community, particularly as we are celebrating 150 years since Parkville was listed as a heritage suburb by the National Trust.”


Mr Moore said he had met with the City of Melbourne in late October and was awaiting advice from their barrister and the council.

While the building does not have heritage protection, it sits within the council’s heritage overlay, and in an area considered an example of “particularly intact Victorian residential development.”

The building dates to 1923 and was originally opened as a boarding house and has a distinctive Moderne-style tower with a porthole window on the northeast corner.

In June, locals gathered at the front of Harcourt holding signs saying, “more than a façade”, “save our heritage” and “no development or need for a medical centre in our heritage suburb”.

Mr Moore previously said that approval for the application, which attracted 150 objections, could set a concerning precedent for other sites in the precinct, stressing that no buildings had been demolished in Parkville in the past 25 to 35 years.

In rejecting the medical clinic proposal in September, the council cited an “unreasonable and unacceptable impact on the residential environment caused by the intensity of the proposal”.

The council issued the applicant with a notice of refusal to grant a permit based on the proposal’s strategic context, use, heritage and built form, as well as car parking and access. •

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